Work and a bit of a virus meant I didn’t get into the field till the 13th, but it would prove to be the start of a solid 3 days on the patch.
The 13th was mild and clear and even though the immediate coast was cloaked with fog by the early afternoon, slightly in-land was very pleasant. Muckleburgh Hill was holding at least 3 singing Chiffchaff (patch year tick) and not long after the first bird was heard, a patch first flew in from over the roads and directly into the tree in front of me; Great spotted Woodpecker, result. As far as I know and from Moss Taylor’s reports from the area, they do not breed, so any sighting here is noteworthy. Things improved still once I positioned myself on top of Muckleburgh, as 3 Red Kite could be seen following Cromer Ridge and drifting away in-land.
Mild conditions and clear skies persisted into the 14th and straight after work, Leila and myself had a bite to eat at Muckleburgh’s summit and scanned for more raptors. A male Sparrowhawk was the first to appear, a well overdue year tick for the Cleaver and smart views to boot. Six Buzzard moved west, loosely associating and finally an immature Peregrine (patch year tick) came in off the heath and panicked the Wood Pigeon flock on the camp.
Down at Salthouse, John Furse had found a Wheatear (patch year tick) and the bird stayed long enough to allow some decent views.
Wheatear, Salthouse, taken by John Furse, 14/03/14.
The winds on the 15th switched to a west/north-west direction and picked up a few mph. It was much milder and any plans to wait for passerines moving on the hill were ruined by this. Instead, I decided to bunker down by the beach and keep an eye on the sea for an hour. This was in my favour, as small numbers of many species were moving. Brent Geese, Gannet, Eider, Scoter, Dunlin and Grey Plover were all noted, but the main highlight was when a stunning 1st-winter Iceland Gull loafed into view from the east. A county, patch and self find tick all rolled into one. Magic. I watched the bird for about 10 minutes, trying to get a call out to the services so the lads at Cley had a chance, but signal was so poor it was impossible. I whacked out some horrendous video with my phone, but it was good enough should anyone question the sighting and I rushed up the bank to call it out. Amazingly, Ian Eggelton and Nigel Rogers were stood on the other side having a chat. I quickly informed them and Nigel managed a few decent record shots before the bird was out of view.
1st-winter Iceland Gull, Kelling Hard, taken by Nigel Rogers.
The sea hadn’t spat out it’s last patch year tick for me there though, an adult Kittiwake and a pair of Red-breasted Merganser ended the morning.
Some car trouble saw us at Salthouse a little longer than we had planned, but a Snipe was seen and that long over due bird brought the Cleaver up to a ton for the year, so far.